back to article Mega new climate science: 'Runaway' effect exaggerated

Top international boffins, having crunched vast amounts of climate data, say that the effect of "carbon feedback" - thought likely in some quarters to cause imminent runaway global warming followed by the end of human civilisation - has been exaggerated. "Our key finding is that the short-term temperature sensitivity of …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    ARRRGGGGHHHHHH - We're all gonna die...


    Oh, sorry, I'll... errr... get my coat, well its warm so I'll leave me coat then.


  2. scrubber

    Not a chance...

    "quite possibly to the extent that international agreements and government policies may change noticeably."

    There is too much money to be made from carbon trading/tariffs that no government will backtrack on this regardless of what evidence is presented.

    The amount of political capital various politicians have spent trying to persuade people that calamity is just round the corner means that they cannot perform a U-turn and expect to be re-elected.

    Where's the money symbol??? Pick-pocket will have to do.

  3. lglethal Silver badge

    Sorry Lewis...

    "... government policies may change noticeably."

    I think your being a tad over-optimistic there, Lewis. We all know that governments have a stated Ostrich techinque (involving sand, their head and some creative burying arrangements) when any information comes to light that contradicts their own agenda...

    I hate to say it but nothing will change... money will be wasted on new quangoes, "green" energy sources will contiunue to be propped up, and at the end of the day, you and i will pay our taxes and watch the politicians p*ss it away...

    Is it too early to head to the pub, i feel the need for some reason...

    1. Doshu

      yes and no and maybe

      I agree in part that the govs probably won't go back on some of their green "initiatives", but that's not necessarily an entirely bad thing -- we do need to clean some of this messy stuff up a bit if possible.

      On the other hand, there also needs to be less stupid projects that only look good on paper (and politically) and that waste tons of time, capital and raw materials.

      Imho, that is.

  4. Martin

    Cue loads of people saying "Told you so..."

    That is all.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    Maybe now the boffins can get past this pointless distraction with harmless CO2 and actually pay attention to the really harmful chemical pollutants that continue to be poured into the environment unabated

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Read the article - they have reduced the apparent effect/danger of ONE feedback mechanism, not all.

      Quite an interesting bit of work and more balanced reporting than I usually expect of the register on this subject.

  6. Bruce Hoult

    there's feedback for sure

    It doesn't take much time examining temperature reconstructions to see that the earth has repeatedly been both a bit hotter than now and cooler than now. Given that there hasn't been runaway heating (or freezing) in the past it would seem that the obvious way to bet is that there are strong *negative* feedback forces at work.

    A global thermostat, if you like.

    I guess that doesn't attract as much research funding.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      The thermostat seems pretty loose: e.g. ice ages and the "tropical-poles" ages. Loose enough so that the climate may change enough so that a significant fraction of our infrastructure is compromised or submerged, and so that our current agricultural processes are broken.

      Our civilization is tightly coupled to the current climate, and assumptions based on that current climate. Adjusting our behaviour as an insurance policy against disruptive climate change might be expensive, but so is moving $COASTAL_CITY to higher ground ... or fighting off N millions of desperate refugees.

      1. Marty


        "Adjusting our behaviour as an insurance policy against disruptive climate change might be expensive, but so is moving $COASTAL_CITY to higher ground ... or fighting off N millions of desperate refugees."

        The swings have gone on for eons without our interferance, we do nothing climate will change, do somthing, climate will change. It still going to piss me off when i get a £70+ additional charge on my electric bill for the fight on global warming

        pickpocket, as i am fed up of the green taxes

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Solar Thermostat

      So we need to find the global thermostatic PID algorithm based on historical data, and then we'll be able to predict what the temperature will be in future!

      Listen up, Government! I'll need £50M budget, for which you'll get a small graph showing approximate predicted temperatures for the future.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Thumb Up


        "So we need to find the global thermostatic PID algorithm based on historical data, and then we'll be able to predict what the temperature will be in future!"

        Good thinking. However I remember back in my dim and distant days (*very* dim, *very* distant) napping through a lecture on limit cycle oscillation and how it tends to be a feature of non-linear control systems. Linear PID types are either quite expensive or lack the crisp response of a bang-bang system. The classic example being the domestic central heating thermostat, which actually keeps the room in a *band* around the desired temperature because it has no idea about boiler output Vs house temperature rise.

        The "bang" in the Earths climate could be volcanic eruptions, sunspots, asteroid impacts or the introduction of a large scale energy using civilisation.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Bruce Hoult

      What no runaway cooling like the 'snowball Earth' about 600 million years ago (if I remember correctly - Google it).

  7. Rogerborg


    Any any fool can see, a temperature rise of 2 degrees will lead to a runaway heating cycle which will utterly destroy the biosphere and turn the Earth into a fiery Venusian hell JUST LIKE IT DID EVERY TIME TEMPERATURES ROSE IN THE PAST.

    DENIALISTS can't be allowed to use so called "facts" or "evidence" or "basic common sense" to keep this information secret any longer!!!!11!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Whoa there! Calm down.

      I don't believe there is any evidence that Earth ever reached the extremes demonstrated by Venus. Also, as I recommended to another poster, read the article. These guys are not claiming all is hunk-dory, just that one of the feared feedback mechanisms may not be as severe as previously thought.

      I believe the evidence that the Earth is warming and I also believe that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that humanity is playing a significant part but that doesn't mean that whenever someone produces rigourous scientific evidence that seems to reduce the threat that I feel impelled to shout DENIER at them. I don't think any fool can see that a '2 degree rise will lead to a runaway heating cycle' or perhaps only a fool who doesn't rely on scientific evidence.

      Take a deep breath, read and accept that not everything has to be at the extreme end of danger for it to be worth doing something about it.

      1. KjetilS


        I'm pretty sure Rogerborg used something called sarcasm when he wrote his post

      2. Anonymous Coward

        irony detection failure

        irony detection failure

      3. John Angelico

        Hoist with...

        ...your own petard, my friend.

        Read the article where it states that human emissions are about 31Bn tonnes pa, vs forest absorbtion (alone) of around 123Bn tonnes pa or four times what we puny earthlings put out.

        Just HOW much influence does all of humanity have, then, eh?

        Doomsayers might need to be looking for a Vogon Constructor Fleet instead.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          @Hoist with . .

          You're assuming a linear relationship based on what?

        2. Mme.Mynkoff
          Dead Vulture

          If only...

          "Doomsayers might need to be looking for a Vogon Constructor Fleet instead."

          Don't worry, they'll find it - they are psychologically addicted to Doomsday. The Big Kahuna (Global Warming) isn't working out, so it must be Peak Oil. Or Ocean Acidification.

          For a tech site, El Reg is a magnet for unscientific loonybins.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        RE: @Rogerborg

        How can you tell?

      5. John Smith 19 Gold badge


        Check his other posts.

        You've been trolled.

      6. Joe 35

        re "who there calm down"

        Are you American or something? Look up the meaning of "sarcasm"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So angry he can't spell

      Rogerborg, you come across as another over-emotional eco loony, with all those CAPITAL LETTERS and !! 11!! 's.

      (Unless it's a brilliant parody of over-emotional eco-loonies, and he's got me).

      CO2 increases when the planet warms, it has been much higher in the past without runaway warming. Try reading you might learn something.

      1. Veldan

        Got you!

        @ AC 14:46

        I'm afraid he got you!

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Lewis, stick to what you know

    like telling how our forces should buy US weapons. You last few articles about climate change stuff show that you have no idea on how to read a scientific paper. In fact all you seem to do is rewrite the abstracts, stuff a 1st year undergrad would do (and be marked down for) and then you jump to your own conclusion, totally taken out of context of the meaning of the paper showing how little you actually know.

    I would be interested do know how , "...a less pronounced climate-carbon cycle feedback..." becomes mega new and exaggeration totally explaining the runaway process. It is but one part of existing models, Q10 is but one of many "critical" variables.

    1. Steve Crook

      It's the bit where he says...

      'It is unlikely to mean the end of climate-change concern, however, as various other "runaway" mechanisms are also postulated'

      However, the carbon feedback business is the most often quoted when it comes to these sorts of things. If these boffins have come up with more accurate figures to feed into climate prediction models, then I for one will be happier.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    So the only people left who believe in Man-Made Global Warming...

    ... are people with a financial interest in it.

    Windmill manufacturers

    Insurance companies (higher premiums)

    Energy companies (carbon trading was invented just for them at Kyoto)

    Bureaucrats and bean-counters

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So the only people

      <Sigh> Read the article . . . .

    2. PC Paul

      vested interests...

      Windmill manufacturers (and solar panel manufacturers etc etc...) may be benefiting from that man made global warming panic...


      ...just because that is a load of rubbish doesn't mean that moving away from our huge dependency on oil isn't a good thing for lots of other reasons...

      Flame on for.. well.. global warming and stuff.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      So the only people left who believe in Man-Made Global Warming...

      >So the only people left who believe in Man-Made Global Warming...

      You missed out 95% of climate scientists (that climbs to 99% if you ignore all the ones funded by oil companies, even if you drop the ones funded by greeny organisations).

      Or 90% of the world who have a scientific training and have bothered to do any reading on it.

      The sad thing is, it's not a matter of faith for the greenies, they've got this thing called "theory supported by evidence". The anti-greenies are making lots of noise, and relying on the human nature side (we don't want to believe it, because we don't like it), but at the moment, there's no serious scientific opposition to the greenies. I'd welcome it, having spent years poking holes in MMGW but there is nothing even vaguely credible. I'd expect lots of responses to me with assorted pieces of evidence, but I'm afraid I can now recognise cherry picking, bad theories and desperation.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward



        they've got this thing called "theory supported by evidence"

        If only.

        MMGW is an interesting idea, I do not dispute the potential impact as a positive feedback, but in 30 years they have never more than a bag of guesswork and hypotheticals. Panic has now broken out because the heat must be "hiding".

        They would have done better not trying to pretend they know how the climate works. And you would have done better not bluffing.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Missing out on scientists

        "...but I'm afraid I can now recognise cherry picking, bad theories and desperation."

        Yep, a lot more of us can, now, than when the cherry pickers, bad theorists and desperate [insert financial beneficiary of MMGW here] got together and realized they could get HUGE amounts of cash for pet projects, etc. and control over people's lives. Much like a gossiping church deacon who loves to waggle fingers at those "less holy"... while holding out the collection plate with the other hand.

        Man has some influence on global warming; but it is never about saving the planet. Its about saving our hides while maintaining our "comfortable" 1st world culture and lifestyle. This planet would get along quite happily without us, I think.... but that would label someone as a "desperate Malthusian" as well. When the person comes forward that has a solution that doesn't want taxpayers cash - then somebody might listen objectively. Otherwise, shisters and grifters (politicians and financiers) will warp whatever they can claim as "evidence" for either position.

        Icon - cherry picking taxpayers cash based on bad theories made out of deperation.

      3. Anonymous Coward

        It's the end of the world


        HAHAHA, you make me giggle so.

        I'd love to see where you get your 95%(99% even) of climate scientists stat, or for that matter what you qualify as a climate scientist.

        Just saying that I've seen a fairly even spread about the subject with the most level headed science being done by the denialists while the kicking and screaming about "killing our mother, wah wah wah!" being done by the bleeding heart greenies.

        Or has everyone just totally blanked CRU out of their minds?

        It's sexy to "save the world" but not particularly practical, we're very tiny and there are no hard facts to show we're changing 10/5ths of sweet F*A. There is a lot of correlation, but that is not causation or I'm a pastafarian.

      4. Anonymous Coward

        Thermodynamic principles vs. politics

        "You missed out 95% of climate scientists (that climbs to 99% if you ignore all the ones funded by oil companies, even if you drop the ones funded by greeny organisations)."

        Obviously they are not scientists at all as those can admit when they are wrong. Politicians never admit that, thus so called "climate scientists" are more interested about their own welfare than science. I can understand that.

        I begun to seriously doubt their so called "science" when we got reports that

        a) Sun output had increased 2%

        b) every other planet (and moon) on Solar system started to warm significantly, even Pluto


        c) these so called "scientists" vehemently deny that Sun has anything to do with Earths warming.

        Tell me, do they really believe the shit they are saying? "Believe" as opposed of knowing, because that's something they don't do.

        Do you believe that you can heat an object in a vacuum 2% more than earlier and it's temperature won't rise a bit?

        If you do, you fail at thermodynamics and have a promising future in climatology instead. Which happens to be precise science compared to climatology and if these differ, somebody in climatology has made an error.

  10. Turtle

    Wishful thinking

    "Together the two studies are expected to have a major impact on climate science and modeling, quite possibly to the extent that international agreements and government policies may change noticeably"

    Wanna bet?

    There are too many global-warming partisans too heavily invested both professionally intellectually (I use the word advisedly), and additionally, and very importantly, invested emotionally for them to publicly recant their position.

    Regarding politicians, I have to disagree with a few opinions expressed here: I think politicians for the most part could change their position on the imminence of planetary death by carbon fairly easily. "Changing positions" is, after all, what politicians pretty much do for a living, right? And I think that most people realize that politicians are not scientists. If "lapsed scientists" such as the cabal of propagandists from East Anglia or the statistically-mercurial James Hansen decide that their real vocation is "influencing public policy by lying" it is not really fair to expect politicians to easily see through their ruse. So for politicians to change their position because of, let's say, new research showing that their previous positions were based on "erroneous" (though actually fraudulent) research and to do so for the sake of economic growth, would not be a difficult maneuver for them.

  11. David Lucke

    @Bruce Hoult - actually there's been plenty of runaway freezing

    Whilst you're quite correct that the runaway heating panic was a very obvious bunch of rubbish, due to the historical periods that have been much warmer than we are currently, runaway cooling is very well estabished as an actual problem. They're called ice ages. And they're very scary indeed.

    Recent research into growth patterns suggests that the onset of an ice age is very fast indeed, going from a slight bobble downwards in temperature to ice sheets covering Europe in well under a decade. Drivers for it are not well understood, but people are looking at the very, very long period of low sunspot activity in the sun that we are currently going through, indicative of low solar output, and getting rather nervous. Ice ages have been fairly regular occurances throughout history, and we're rather overdue for another.

    Still, should be good for a laugh watching the politicians all reversing themseves and screaming for more co2 to be put into the atmosphere asap, as the glaciers bear down on whitehall...

    1. I didn't do IT.

      Re: Solar Maximum

      "...people are looking at the very, very long period of low sunspot activity in the sun that we are currently going through, indicative of low solar output..."

      Though less interuption in our reception of Sky and Dish network would be considered (by some) to be a blessing; its never wise to count your velocirapters before they hatch... Some models show a rapid rise in sunspots once they get started, causing... a runaway period... of intense impact... to human activity... NOW WAIT A MINUTE?! They didn't use the same model, did they?!

  12. BristolBachelor Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    CO2 & Temperatures

    ISTR reading somewhere that there was a period in the past with CO2 levels significantly higher (multiples of times higher), however the temperature was about the same as now or slightly lower.

    That doesn't seem to fit with some of the claims that have been made in the past.

    1. Displacement Activity
      Paris Hilton

      Re. CO2 & Temperatures

      Actually, no. If the ice core data is to be believed, there's a *very* strong correlation between CO2 and temperature. BBC online have a nice intro to this at <>. Go to the link for the 800,000-year EPICA ice core data, download it, draw the graph. For anyone not familiar with Excel/whatever, who can't draw the graph, reply here and I'll upload my graph somewhere.

      You'll notice that there's only one point where the correlation fails: right *now*, where the CO2 goes off the scale, and the temperature hasn't followed. *This* is what the climate change debate is all about: will the temperature follow, or won't it? Anyone who's seen this graph is going to have a hard time believing that it won't.

      @El Reg: there's a fat chance that you'll even read this, let alone do something about it. But, if you do, and if you actually have any interest in climate change, then here's a suggestion for you. With every one of your climate stories, post a link to this data, with a graph added, and ask everyone to look at the graph *before* commenting on your story.

      Paris, 'cos I found a picture of her scratching her crotch this morning, and that's about as relevant to IT as climate change is.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Thumb Up

        I;ll being checking the table rather than the graph, Oh look the CRU provided it.

        Only I seem to recall a version of this graph appeared in a *peer* reviewed publication it showed CO2 *lagging* temperature. Which would somewhat change the picture.

        Could be wrong. But It's a strong memory.

        Thumbs up for a link to some factual data. Nevertheless the attribution does mean it should be treated with caution.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vested interests.

    If for example, a naturalist wants funding to study the mating rituals of the Aardvark he’s told to go take a running jump.

    If the same naturalist asks for funding to study the effects of global warming on the mating rituals of the Aardvark he's asked, how much do you need?

    With attitudes like this so common, can we really trust all these doom merchants impartiality?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @Marcus Dubious

      So you've made up a story (unless you're an aardvark specialist?) and then claimed its a common event?

      Well I'm convinced; Jeeves bring out the V12!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        It was an example of attituse

        Are you trying to suggest that I’m wrong and funding isn't more readily available to research possible global warming effects?

        You sound like a dogmatic MMGW believer who can’t be convinced of anything else.

        PS if your going to be such a pompous twit then at least have the guts to insult me to my face and show your name.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @It was an example . . .

          No, I'm not suggesting that you are wrong, I said you MADE IT UP. Instead of making up little stories and then using them as evidence of common attitudes produce some evidence!

          And if you consider a statement of a fact to be an insult then it doesn't surprise me that you find your own internal world so convincing. Pip pip!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @ CAPITAL LETTERS

            "I said you MADE IT UP."

            Dearie me, you are getting shrill as you lose the debate. Unless you're a complete imbecile you can see the Aardvark example was a metaphor.

            He's quite right. Scientists need to put a politically-correct spin on their research, the surest bet is to stick climate change on the funding application.

            1. Steven Knox

              Nice Opinion

              Now if you want people to agree with it, provide some evidence. Here's an example of actual support for your opinion.

              1. An unbiased , properly sized sample of grant applications over a given time frame,

              2. Data on the sample showing whether or not the grant included climate-change language, whether or not the research actually was climate-change oriented, and whether or not the grant was approved, and

              3. A valid statistical analysis of the data showing a statistically significant correlation between climate-change language in a grant application and approval of said application.

              Anything else is not a valid argument, but opinion. Ad hominem attacks are not vaild arguments. Metaphors are not valid arguments. Even anecdotal evidence is not a valid argument.

     is a good starting point, if you actually want to have a debate rather than trading insults.

              1. Anonymous Coward

                @Steven Knox

                Have you any idea how much you sound like a creationist with your ridiculous demands for proof?

              2. Anonymous Coward

                For the benefit of Stephen Knox

                Fame beckons for any researcher who can work climate change into their obscure research.


                I shall just quote the P's:

                Global warming causes:

                ... penguin chicks frozen, penguin chicks smaller, penguins replaced by jellyfish, personal carbon rationing, pest outbreaks, pests increase, phenology shifts, pines decline, pirate population decrease, plankton blooms, plankton wiped out, plants lose protein, plants march north, plants move uphill, polar bears aggressive, polar bears cannibalistic, polar bears deaf, polar bears drowning, polar tours scrapped, popcorn rise, porpoise astray, profits collapse, psychiatric illness, puffin decline, pushes poor women into prostitution

                Marvel at the variety of research across so many fields that can now get funding!

                Global Warming really is magic. But you have to say the Magic Word.

                1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Anonymous Coward

            Funy how others disagree with you then isn't it?

            Like I said dogmatic, others see exactly the point I was making and Marek below understood it so well he gives a perfect example.

            Unfortunately you fail at English comprehension or could it be that you have some axe to grind?

            I also see that you're still to cowardly to show your identity.

          3. Grease Monkey Silver badge


            Sorry AC but you are either a complete fuckwit or have done no reading of scientific papers being published over the last few decades. Take a look and you will see that the number of papers on subjects containing phrases like "the effects of global warming on" or "the effects of climate change on"*. The interesting thing about a lot of these papers is that they don't actually show what they set out to show because they don't have a hope in hell. It doesn't stop them trying.

            Imagine, if you will, a paper studying the effects of climate change on the global bluebottle population. In order for this to mean anything at all you would need to isolate the effects of global warming from any other other influences on the population and you would need to do the same historically in order to get a good baseline on which to base your research. How many such studies do you suppose go to those lenghts? Not very many, mostly because the historic data reuqireed aren't even available. However that doesn't stop people titling these papers like that. So what could be the reason for using these misleading titles if it's not funding?

            One big problem I have with climate "science" is that it is somewhat victorian in its approach. The victorians gave us the idea of the balance of nature - that is to say that nature is completely stable unless man interferes. Climate scientists manage to ignore most significant rises or falls in global temperatures in much the same way as victorians assumed that nature was almost static before they started to observe it. It's easy to draw a horizonatal line for termperature against time with a flip up at the end to convince people that global warming is a man made phenomenon. It's less easy to convince the sceptics if your historic line shows points in the past where it was warmer than it is today. Now that's not to say that man made global warming doesn't exist, or that it isn't a problem if it does, but the scientists do their cause no good by presenting such an over simplified picture. It may convince the ignorant and the lazy (aka willfully ignorant) but it makes the inquisitise automatically distrust anything the scientists say.

            * I recall a period where there was a huge rise in paper's titles including words like "fractal" and "chaos" because they were the in thing that could almost guarantee funding. And there wasn't nearly so much funding for chaos based research as there is for global warming.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              My distrust comes from Climate modelling

              I find climate modelling one of the worst forms of vested interest driven pseudo science.

              We understand so little about the climate that we cannot predict any real long term changes in any macro climate system, let alone the whole global climate.

              But people claim to predict what the climate will be, to reinforcing degrees of accuracy, in 50 - 100 years.

              Worse still, the models that get the most attention are the ones that support the MMGW thinking by reinforcing their preconceptions of impending Venusian doom. (anyone else thinking of “the rapture” here?)

              I find it hard to believe that if a climate model consistently concluded there was no negligible effect that it would get more funding.

              The people who decide these budgets have a vested interest in promoting MMGW for political reasons and the modellers have a vested interest in skewing their algorithms to give profitable predictions.

  14. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Out of date - and wrong - before it was published

    1. G R Goslin

      You can't be serious

      You can't be serious in quoting from that rubbish, pseudo-science rag, the new Scientist, surely? They're wrong so many times, and have such a biased outlook, that for the truth, it's better to read it carefully and then accept the opposite point of view without reservations.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        @ G R Goslin

        Well with all of the evidence you present compared to that light-weight slipshod article I'm converted!!

    2. Daren Nestor

      that was interesting

      Interesting but very speculative.

      The question remains, if the temperature is that sensitive to CO2, why is there a loverly planet like we have now, and not a Venus here. What stops the warming? Temperature reconstructions show that the majority of time in the past, the temperature has been colder than now, with regular spikes to hotter than now, that then recede back to colder temperatures. Why does it peak?

      My question of the articles quoted in the paper would be about the available landmass absorbing CO2. Is this largely vegetation? Would that mean that in the case of extensive ice coverage - say during an ice age - that the rate of CO2 absorption goes down? Presumably that would lead to greater concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere and thus, warming. This would make Q10 a variable based on available landmass/available biomass and not a constant, as Lewis suggests

  15. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    I think people have got the politicians wrong

    This new evidence doesn't demolish the argument for or against runaway climate change, it just adds to the data. What effect it has on the scientific consensus (such as there is) is a matter on which I'm not qualified to judge. There are almost certainly scientists with emotional investments in their positions who will find it hard to change if the data shows that their models turn out to have been wrong. Sadly it's only in a fantasy world where scientists can look at the data, and instantly change their positions accordingly, without any interference from career, funding and emotion.

    However for politicians to change their minds can be much quicker. Firstly they keep losing elections, so there are always new ones along with no face to save. Secondly, no politician wants to say to voters, "what this economy needs is 10% less growth over the next decade or two!" This being even more true now the worldwide boom is over, and everyone is counting the cost and paying off the debt.

    Anyway, the politicians have mostly talked a good game, but we've hardly seen much in the way of major policy change yet. Lots of targets have been set, and mostly missed, or set far in the future with none of the policy to back them up yet formulated.

    Whatever the science says, I'm not sure there are many current governments in a strong enough position to tell their voters that now is the time for green economic cuts to save the world, they've all too busy with debt and banking crises. I'll be amazed if anything major gets done in the next few years - whatever the science says.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @Not Spartactus

      "Anyway, the politicians have mostly talked a good game, but we've hardly seen much in the way of major policy change yet. "

      You can forget the yet, it ain't going to happen matey.

      You sort of realise why, but just haven't accepted it yet. Some may call this "denial". Bad luck if you had a few quid riding on Global Warming, though - we all make mistakes.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        I expect no action.

        I've no money riding on it. Myself, I'm a sceptic, and it may turn out the recession gives the scientists some time to get their house in order before any action gets taken. If it turns out that climate science is 'rotten', and dominated by a small self-selecting clique who've been playing fast and loose with the evidence, then it's probably all going to come out before politics can get its act together. If a few people have just 'over-stepped the mark', and the doom-Sayers are right, then we're going to be 5-10 years further down the line, but with better data.

        I guess we'll find out...

        As happens, I have been asked by a client to sell 'green' technology, with no appreciable environmental benefit, but which attracts large subsidies, all for nice commission. But I'm not terribly happy about it, and hope the coalition sees the light and cancels the funding before I have to make the choice.

  16. dr2chase


    I thought the scary feedback was supposed to be Arctic CH4.

  17. Marek

    @Marcus Dubious

    I think the best example of this I saw recently was an article suggesting that Sperm Whale poo was helping off set climate change.

    I appreciate studying whale turd might be what you're into and it maybe beneficial to understanding marine eco-systems - but climeate change? C'mon!!!!!

    1. Denarius

      @whale crap and anti-technologists

      I thought the whale poo fertilises the oceans article and its reception most interesting in how it pointed out a previously unknown carbon sink, sort of. This seemed to be accepted as a good thing by hte GW theorists.

      However, 2 years previously, global warming mitigation using the same process by "fertilising" the Southern Ocean with iron chelates was disparaged as useless and dangerous because it involved climate engineering with unknown possibilities..

      So if whales do it, good. If humans replicate it, bad. I detect the all too common anti-progress attitude here that using our technology and intelligence is always a bad thing, while natural processes are always a good thing, even if the chemistry is the same.

      <sarcasm> However, it would be an interesting experiment to see if dropping strategy boutique staff, ITIL pundits and political spinners into the Southern Ocean has the same effect as whale poo. Cant be much difference between bullsh*t and whale faeces </sarcasm>

  18. James Pickett


    @Marcus Dubious (and his critics)

    We have red squirrels here on the Isle of Wight, and a research project a few years ago was having difficulty making ends meet. Then someone found a Global Warming (as it was then called) angle and redefined the project’s aims, and funding wasn’t a problem after that...

    BTW, the Arctic is melting right now because it's summer there. This is nicely balanced by Winter in the South - until half-time, when they change ends.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "This in itself wouldn't be the end of the world: but a lot of people believe that such a temperature rise, if allowed to happen, could trigger some kind of runaway process in which the temperature would then begin to climb unstoppably with truly devastating results."

    This has long been my biggest bugbear with climate "science". The doommongers have a pet theory which remains completely unproven but it the linch pin of their whole projection. The biggest problem I have with this is that the world has been hotter in the past than it is now and yet the temperature did not keep on rising then, it came back down. I still suspect that there will actually be some sort of negative feedback built into the whole system that will actually damp temperature rises beyond a certain level.

    However I suspect that most climate scientists who make their living from doom mongering will make sure this new theory is either discredited or at least buried. These are, after all, the same people who selected 12 trees out of every tree on the planet because those trees gave the historic data they wanted. The phrase "scientific method" is just a random accreation of syllables to these people.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rainforest destruction...

    So, the worlds rainforests suck up 33% of Co2.

    And we have so far destroyed 60-70% of the Amazon rainforests, 90% of West Africa's rainforests and so on. And continue to destroy an area the size of Florida every year.

    And I'm being forced to change my sodding light bulbs and drive a shit car?!?!?!?

    Carbon is not being generated, its being released - which is an important distinction. Us reducing our planets ability to soak up carbon is of equal importance as our increasing ability to release it.

    It's good to see that actually touched upon in an article of this nature, albeit in a single small paragraph.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It ain't just rainforests

      It's not that long ago since muc of England, Wales and Ireland was forest. And a hell of a lot of Europe too. We have spent centuries deforesting the planet and now we talk about planting trees as a way of "carbon offsetting". If we still had the forest cover we had a couple of hundred years ago the planet could probably cope with the rate of release of CO2 we have at the moment. So is the problem the CO2 or the lack of trees? Planting trees is not "carbon offsetting" it's putting the planet back the way it ought to be.

      Interestingly enough in Ireland conservationists want to save peat bogs, but most of the peat bogs are only there as a result of man made deforestation. This highlights a problem with conservation. Conservationists are interested in maintaining the planet the way it is now, no in putting the planet back the way we found it. In the case of peat bogs the conservationists actually want to conserve what may be considered a man made environmental disaster. You don't think so? Once upon a time Ireland was heavilly forested and those with those forssts came a huge complex ecosystem which has now gone. You don't consider the destruction of a whole ecosystem a disaster?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Rainforests increasing

      Here you go, AC. If you like rainforests, and think rainforest is vital to our climate and a useful CO2 sink. then you will like this:

      Rainforest area is increasing, as a result of urbanisation.

      "By one estimate, for every acre of rain forest cut down each year, more than 50 acres of new forest are growing in the tropics on land that was once farmed, logged or ravaged by natural disaster.

      "There is far more forest here than there was 30 years ago,” said Ms. Ortega de Wing, 64, who remembers fields of mango trees and banana plants.

      So there's no need to worry about the Amazon. Or buy a stupid lightbulb or drive a shitty car. We just need more urbanisation, which the eco-loonies hate.

      It's Lily Allen I feel sorry for... she's just taken a trip to the Amazon to "highlight the plight of the rainforest" - and she might as well have stayed at home.

      1. Grease Monkey Silver badge


        I always love it when somebody introduces made up "facts" into the debate. As for forestation increasing consider the loss of forests in the UK alone over the last few centuries and then revisit your stupid little argument.

        To actually address your argument (I suppose I should) urbanisation is leading to more deforestation. As populations increase the need for food increases this means more farm land is needed which in turn means more forest is destroyed. Yes there are a few areas where new forest is growing due to a reduction in farming, but this is because farming is no longer economically viable in those areas. Essentially we want food at such low prices that farmers can't afford to live on what we pay them. Furthermore there is some regrowth of forest in areas where logging once occurred. Logging i those areas hasn't stopped because there is no longer any need for the timber, as some may suggest, it has stopped because there are no longer any mature trees to fell. Wood from renewable sources? In many hardwood logging areas it will take many decades for the trees to grow to a usuable size. Renewable over what time period?

        Your argument relies on looking at a small part of the planet over a few years and then extrapolating that experience to cover the whole planet. This is as stupid and pointless as climate scientists basing their picture of world temperatures on samples taken from twelve trees in on location.

        It seems that both sides of this argument present small observations and largely unprovable theories as facts* while the sensible part of the population is ignored as it looks at the big picture and carefully consider all of the evidence.

        Occam's razor is probably the most abused analytical maxim. Both sides of the argument will tell you that their theory explains all the obeserved facts. Yes it does but only because both sides choose only to observe the facts that fit in with their theory. Worse still many of those facts aren't facts at all, but other theories. I've just been looking out of the window and it's raining heavilly. Ten minutes ago it was raining ever so slightly. Yesterday it didn't rain at all. From those observations I can deduce that the rain will continue to get heavier and heavier until the world floods and we all die.

        And before anybody asks, when it comes to environmental impact replacing mature broad leaved trees with quick growing pines in order to make your sources more quickly renewable is not a good thing. All it does is increase your company's cash flow. It does not suddenly solve our environmental problems.

        BTW all the available evidence tells us that mature rainforest takes hundreds of years to develop. It isn't going to turn up if you leave a bit of arable land untended for a few decades. Nobody is sure how long it will take for true rainforest to regrow, what we do know is that the timescales involved are an awful lot longer than we have been observing them.

        * Stupid things.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: science funding

    "So you've made up a story (unless you're an aardvark specialist?) and then claimed its a common event?"

    Of course it's a common event throughout every branch of science! How do you think scientists get funding to do science? They have to compete for a limited pot of money against every other scientist! Only the projects considered "important" or "beneficial" will get the money. This requires that scientists *make* their work "important" or "beneficial" by shoehorning it into whatever is considered "important" or "beneficial" by the people handing out the money. In medical research, key words are things like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis etc. Whatever you do, you have to find a way to link it to topics like these if you want money.

    "Climate change" is the subject of a huge amount of money at the moment. That means people who want a slice of the cake have to find a way to angle their research to put it in context in relation to "climate change". This is why we've seen news stories claiming that everything and anything is linked to "climate change", from increasing wars in Africa, prehistoric man killing mammoths, whale poo and huge fossil snakes. The more sensational the story, the more coverage, the more prestige and the greater chance of getting more money. Positive feedback in action.

    A Scientist.

  22. Grease Monkey Silver badge


    Any discussion on climate science that restricts itself to the discussion of carbon dioxide is doomed to fail. Any journalist or politician who can't tell the difference between carbon and carbon dioxide should not be admitted to the discussion. There are plenty of greenhouse gasses other than CO2 but so many people involved in the discussion think that CO2 is the only greenhouse gas, or worse that carbon is the only greenhouse gas. As has been mention CH4 is a greenhouse gas and a much more potent one than CO2. The positive feedback effect of that relies on some largely speculative figures for the amount of CH4 trapped in arctic ice which will be released as the ice melts.

    Recently I heard a scientists on the radio claiming that the erruption of the icelandic volcano could contribute to global warming due to all the ash in the atmosphere acting as a greenhouse gas. Strange then that it's not so long since I was reading that the fall in global temperatures a couple of hundred years ago was down to the ash from a couple of massive erruptions. Were I a climate scientist I would be hedging my bets by saying that the Icelandic volcano could lead to a period of cooling. That way they've got a ready made excuse if global temperatures fall or are static for a few years.

    However most climate scientists probably don't want us reminding of that fact that volcanic ash is to blame for the very low temperatures back in the days of Turner and Dickens. If we remember that then it makes the impact of man made global warming seem much smaller. If you can say that back in the 19th century the Thames used to freeze over in winter, but it doesn't now due to global warming then that's convincing. If, however, you have to admit that volcanic ash in the early 19th century was at least partly to blame for the difference between temperatures then and now then your argument will be less convincing.

    Then there are the interesting effects of water and water vapour. That is a discussion in itself, but water vapour works partly to increase global temperatures and partly to reduce them. What happens if the ice melts and sea levels rise. We have more surface area of water on the planet with higher temperatures, so we will have more evapouration and therefore more water vapour in the atmosphere. What effect will that have on global temperatures? It will also mean more rain. Will the cooling effect of all that rain on the planet's surface have any effects on global temperatures. Landmass heats up in the sun and pumps a lot of that heat back into the atmosphere. Water not so much. So with more water in the oceans and therefore less land mass area and more ocean area what effect will this have on global temperatures? Is anybody bothering to factor all this into their models or are they sticking with carbon dioxide being their only concern, with perhaps a little speculation about the CH4 released from arctic ice as it melts?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother


    I think this was something about anthropogenic global warming?

    It's had to tell because I'm having to read this by the light of an energy-saving lightbulb which gives off as much light as a lit ant-fart.

    I'd go and buy a brighter one but the government made it illegal. It probably seemed a good idea at the time.

    Big Bro for Gordon Brown - gone but not forgotten (the daft bastard).

  24. Sly


    Mine's the one with the oily right cuff

  25. Alan Firminger

    Find the facts on CO2

    I am sceptic of all scientists because they all select their facts, and thus their conclusions, to suit their paymasters. No exception here unless proved otherwise. Preconceptions rule.

    The theory is that our CO2 raises earth temperature a bit which releases stored CO2 from the oceans, providing runaway.

    So why is the increased sea acidity from CO2 absorption threatening the survival of some corals ? The gas concentration in the sea cannot increase and decrease.

    1. Douglas Lowe

      CO2 gas/solute balance

      The CO2 content of the ocean is influenced by both the water temperature *and* the CO2 mixing ratio in the atmosphere above the ocean (as well as by the composition of the sea water - but we'll ignore that for now).

      Increasing the temperature of the oceans will decrease the amount of CO2 that can be dissolved in the ocean, for a given fixed mixing ratio of CO2 in the atmosphere. Conversely, increasing the CO2 mixing ratio of the atmosphere will increase the amount of CO2 which will dissolve in the ocean, for a given fixed temperature.

      So, it's a question of which factor increases most: if it the atmospheric mixing ratio of CO2 then the CO2 content of the oceans will increase; if it's temperature then the CO2 content of the oceans will decrease.

      There has been no serious suggestion that CO2 released from the oceans will cause runaway heating, in our current scenario, because it's is increasing CO2 content which is causing the heating. It is possible, though, that in the past rising temperatures have led to the release of CO2 from oceans (causing increases in atmospheric CO2).

      The only important effect I could imagine for CO2 release from oceans in the current scenario would be that CO2 release from the oceans after we stop large-scale CO2 emissions *could* extend the period of MMGW influence. But that would depend on the rate of gas-solute exchange (compared to reservoir size), and the comparative rates of CO2 chemical decay in the two media.

  26. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Shock news. Scientists do science and downgrade a threat

    This is what science is *supposed* to do.

    Have model, obtain data, verify or discount a hypothesis, narrowing the range of uncertainty in a model.

    It *could* have also gone the other way, and there are other "tipping point" scenarios this does improve or resolve. It does beg a few questions.

    What *have* climate modelers been using as values for these factors?

    How many *other* variables are there (or rather "suspected" variables as this has turned out not to be one)

    Has the list of things climate modelers don't know/can't bracket been published?

    I'd settle for the just the ones they know they don't know. The inability to extend weather forecasting models beyond 5 days suggest there are a few they don't know about.

    thumbs up for scientists doing science, *not* politics.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    here we go

    Ok, it doesnt really matter what any one says, the truth either for or against man made global warming will be decided by those that stand to make the most money.

    And one weee problem to all this CO2 = burning planet idea. it is fact that ona geological scale CO2 levels increase AFTER temperature, there is a several hundred year gap, infact you can also see after a spike that temperatures reduce whilst CO2 continues to increase. This would not fit with the current CO2 = end of the world theory.

    an external factor other than CO2 is increasing tempertures, this increase reduces the efficiencie of the biggest CO2 scrubber on the planet, the ocean, which increases the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, what ever factors had changed eventually rebalance themselves and the planet returns to a more "common" climate its happened in the past it will happen again

    part of what i said above is theory simply because no one knows for sure, but what is true is waters ability to absorb CO2 is reduced at higher temperatures and CO2 increases AFTER a temperature increase.

    The rest i shall leave you to decide, i however do agree that we should stop pumping chemicals in to the atmosphere, i agree that as humans we are far to wasteful in almost every aspect, but i disagree that CO2 is the be all and end all of this issue just as much as i disagree that humans have the ability to change a significant part of the whole plants eco-system.

  28. I didn't do IT.

    Re: Scientific scrutiny

    I have long held the belief that Science of every field has its cabal of crackpots. Back in the Victorian times, they were relatively easy to ignore; truly unbiased peer review prevented much from taking up VALUABLE space in printed publications, so that any fringe theory needed to be self-published, and therefore of distribution limited to the depth of the theory creator's pockets. Of course, if there was a real product or innovation, it would be plucked up and sold by the inventor or someone else with money.

    However, what with the advent of instant publication and near limitless online storage, any and every idea may have an equal footing with every other, regardless of merit. Some sort of gatekeeper may be self-appointed to sluce off the dross, but the Masses are typically themselves washed out of even informal discussion as too lowly to comprehend the rarified heights such Discourse should occur at (quiet, polite chuckle, not too long, but long enough to be derisive - a common skill taught at the "better" schools).

    Whether this heralds a brave new age of scientific dissemation or merely brings discourse down to the muddy drains of common media expose is itself a matter hotly debated.

    In any event, the vast amount of physical innovations buried in the mountain of publically searchable patents that would reduce waste, increase efficiency and otherwise make life in the 1st through 4th worlds better needs to be brought to light, tested for fact, and implemented if viable. Whether the world would end tomorrow or in another 3 million years, we need to get off our collective duffs and make our world a better, cleaner, and more pleasant place to be for ourselves and neighbors.

    At least until the machines upgrade us all out of disgust.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Where does the heat go?

    If the earth gets hot, where does the heat go?

    The only way it can go is to cause convection, or evaporation through phase changing, (not quite totally true, but heating the solid crust of the earth, just causes convection or evaporation,) but it's mostly evaporation.

    So, more water evaporates during the day. The steam rises, and then, super high up, at night, it condenses radiating 50% of the heat out away from the Sun. (Simple Newton's law of cooling, and inverse square law - hardly rocket science. (I can get away with sa\ying this, having been a rocket scientist.))

    So the only thing that will happen, is ice will melt, and since nothing else will, more rain will occur, on the coasts, at night.

    As I asked Ed Miliband a few weeks before the election, has there been an increaed amount of rain on the coasts, at night? Hey presto. No answer, because they lost.

    Heating the earth just causes more rain at night.

    I await criticism of my theory, made up just weeks ago, to ask a politician to rethink his view. It will be interesting to see if there's been any flooding in the west of the country in the last few years. It makes sense to me, but has absolutely no research whatsoever, other than being a plausible invention to meet the observations.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @Where does the heat go

      Intresting, im sitting here trying to pick a hole in your idea, and apart from the fact that the rain could accure anywhere not just on the coast because of variations in atmospheric preasure, as far as i can see, all you are saying is IF global warming is man made, IF temperatures increase so that the south pole / Greenland etc melts (because melting floating ice at the northpole will lower the water levels for anyone whos willing to listen!!) ........then it will rain more?

      course then you can argue that reducing the land mass would lower the ability of the the Earth warming up, increasing the sea levels would increase the Earths ability to absorb CO2 in to the ocean my mind, restores balance

      So what we are saying is, the earth will have cycles of warm and cold period and will restore its self at either how on earth did our planet survive all these billions of years without us Humans helping it along its way!

  30. John 62

    plant respiration

    Was plant respiration taken into account in the original paper? The article doesn't say if the rainforests were absorbing overall, or that was just the amount of CO2 they took in due to photosynthesis. Plants still give off CO2 when there's no light.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Oh Please

    So far we have had a snowball earth, several meteors crash into earth, massive volcanic eruptions and general tectonic havoc. I predict that something bad ill happen in the future but more importantly, I predict that the scum we elected will keep on taxing us for problems that seem to have been exaggerated.

    Government "We will listen to the people"

    People "Fuck off and die you thieves"

    Government "We will tax the people"

    ad infinitum

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